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Why we still need our gay bars

Younger generation deserves access to safe spaces



Club Hippo, Baltimore, nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade
Club Hippo, Baltimore, nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade

Baltimore’s Hippo nightclub is expected to close sometime after summer. (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

There’s a disturbing false parallel I’ve heard among friends, seen on social media and even read in local papers: “We have marriage equality now; we don’t need gay bars.”

The idea behind this way of thinking is simple to understand. The LGBT community is well on its way to achieving mainstream status. Queer people are everywhere. So there’s no longer any point in exclusively queer social realms, right?


To me, the fact that gay people have become so ubiquitous provides all the more incentive for owners of gay establishments to do everything in their power to keep their doors wide open: Their presence in neighborhoods around the country is the best way for our community to hold dear our history and preserve uniquely queer safe spaces for another generation.

That’s why it was disconcerting to hear earlier this month that the Hippo, a gay bar in Baltimore, announced plans to close its doors this fall, with a CVS opening up in its place. (Three cheers for gentrification!) And it was equally frustrating to hear that Chesapeake Pride was unable to raise enough funds to host its 10th festival this summer. As yesterday’s LGBT activists focus on their families and their marriages – justifiable things to fixate on, of course – they shouldn’t forget about the younger generation that is clamoring for public opportunities to come into their own.

Let’s take a step back. By now, the ’69 riots outside New York’s still-kicking Stonewall Inn have made their way into the textbooks, albeit in the form of a short paragraph, vivid picture or a footnote.

Since then, gay establishments have earned their place in history as lynchpin locations that showcase the gay spirit. They’re places where drag queens are treated like royalty and condoms and HIV tests are doled out and administered without stigma or shame.

The good news is that gay clubs are no longer the only places where any of this occurs. Gay clubs do, however, still have a unique purpose: They’re a haven. Feel-good stories about older gay couples tying the knot after decades together justifiably warm our hearts, but they also numb us to more depressing and less shared stories about homelessness, suicide and stigmatizing that regularly comes with being a young queer American. Those are the people that still need gay bars.

I’d be surprised if well-known gay establishments in D.C. like Cobalt, JR.’s, and Town end up following The Hippo’s lead: None of them seem to struggle to fill their barstools and dance floors.

After all, I certainly hope they don’t. I’ve lived in D.C. open about my sexual orientation for four years. And for four years, I’ve felt safe in those bars even during my own times of desperation and fear.

Decades from now, I’ll look back on my coming out and my coming of age in this city and I’ll be thankful for those places – where I have shared laughs and gossip with friends, doled out dollar bills to drag performers and, on more than one occasion, shed drunken tears after a stressful week.

For me and for many others, they are the only public spaces that have truly made me feel at home – part of an exciting community with some history behind it. And in thinking about the possibility of these establishments closing, I’m sad for those who are just coming out, for boys who prefer a bit more glitter and glamour than the average frat brother, and for people who seek out gender-neutral bathrooms to relieve themselves in peace. Gay bars protect those people.

Now, in a progressive city like D.C., hardly any gay person enjoys nights out exclusively at gay bars. Today, more than ever, rainbow flags hang outside establishments that don’t explicitly cater to a gay crowd. We might not rely on gay bars anymore to obtain an HIV screening, plan political protests or even meet a love interest.

But to truly be happy and healthy, a young generation of LGBT people needs gay bars just as much as previous generations did, even though business owners might not realize it by reading the headlines.


Justin Peligri is a recent graduate of George Washington University.

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  1. johnwboushka

    June 5, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Very important points. I don’t go out as often to bars as I used to — getting older — but there are more other social opportunities even in mainstream mixed settings than there were a generation ago. One suggestion to club owners: do something about parking. Make sure we can find all-night space. Get together and build a 24-hour garage with security. I think that in West Hollywood (The Abbey, which actor Timo Descamps likes on Twitter) you park in the library garage $10 a night, and that’s it — no street parking — that’s how it was in 2012. It works. The City and club owners should do the same here.

  2. Bob Amsel

    June 5, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Traditionally, gay bars filled the need for gay people and lesbians who were unable to meet in more traditional ways than their straight counterparts. There are many more ways for everyone to meet today, including online, but the bars still serve a function. As for the writer’s comment that the Stonewall only appears in textbooks as a short paragraph isn’t necessarily accurate. A lengthy article I wrote for the Advocate many years back about the Stonewall is currently being taught on college campuses along with other social movements in the following book:

  3. UrsusMichaelus

    June 5, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    An issue the author ignored is that disingenuous people can craft a completely fictitious or misleading persona (identity/”brand”) online, a time-wasting and demoralizing practice for those who are truly trying to engage with other LGBT people in real life. Meatspace does have a tendency to unmask poseurs, imposters and fraudsters to some degree. And there is an undeniable appeal to joining people physically in a given space/time/environment—an event, even if it’s just “the usual Friday night crowd”—that one simply can’t achieve one-to-one in cyberspace or in an online group chat.

  4. Zambos79

    June 5, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    Yes, there still needs to be gay bars. It’s nice to go into a gay bar, not have to wait in line for all of the girls to get in, pay a cover because you are a guy, and wait an exorbitant amount of time at the bar while the bartenders flirt with the girls and give them free drinks.

    It is also nice that the girls are bumping, grinding, and making out with each other to gain the attention of straight guys.

    Girls that go to gay bars go to have fun, and seem to be more relaxed. Plus, come on, where else will you get to hear a fun remix of a song you like? I was introduced an awesome Beyonce remix in a gay club and fell in love with Mr. Saxobeats in a gay club.

  5. lnm3921

    June 5, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    Sometimes you just need to be with your own and feel that you have an environment to be yourself, cruise without worrying if the person is heterosexual and be around other people like yourself and forget the heterosexual world for a while. Gay bars can be exciting, full of energy and a place to enjoy seeing other men. I like feeling comfortable about dancing with someone of the same sex without worrying about others gawking at me with disgust or disapproval. They are also a place to meet new friends that are like yourself. Stop assuming because we have marriage equality that everyone is married or has someone for that matter. Many do not.

    When our enemies bash us and attempt to discriminate or dehumanize us, going to a gay bar is a place to regain a sense of strength, sanity and remind yourself that you are not alone. There are many more like yourself. Your not just going through this on your own.

    A picture in cyberspace will NEVER replace the thrill of being around others in person. It’s a lonely place and just seeing pictures of people that maybe phony or years old will NEVER replace actually seeing a real person for who and what they are. True chemistry can’t be discovered online. It can only be known in person.

    I do agree that gay bar owners needs to put bars in places where parking is easy and secure. Expecting people to take metro to get to a bar or walk several blocks is unrealistic. We don’t all live in DC! It only hurts your business and discourages people from visiting your bar. I haven’t gone to bars anymore in particular because of this. Closing gay bars down and eliminating gay neighborhoods gives our enemies what they’ve always wanted…our invisibility. Why are you so blind to that?

    • Jim

      June 8, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      So well said Inm! I fear that too many younger gay men rely almost exclusively on social media and hook-up aps to explore who they are as gay men. I recall my first visits to a gay bar in NJ (Feathers) as a place where I could speak with someone while observing their mannerisms, social interactions with others, signs of affections, etc. And that was all part of my my gay “education” if you will. You can’t obtain that from an app.

      And while someone else on this thread mentioned how important it is for young gay men to visit gay bars, I can say the same of more “mature” gay men who are married. Gay bars can be for them a place for self-exploration and (hopefully a healthy) way to be liberated from the social constraints which hold them back from living authentic lives.

    • Randall Krause

      June 9, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      Everything in your post is the exact opposite of my experience going to gay bars. I am bisexual and transgender myself, and gay bars are about the last place I feel welcome and comfortable. I routinely get gawks and stares of disapproval. I am constantly judged for being different and not fitting in with the norms of “gay culture”. I certainly don’t meet new friends like myself. And most importantly, it’s not an environment where I can even BE myself. Too much drama. Too much prejudice. Too much backstabbing.

      In fact, gay bars are the only place where I have to pretend to be someone I’m not. It’s like going into the closet, and then being smothered to death. Yet when I’m out in the regular world, that is the only time that I can dress up and be who I am without the continual fear of discrimination and dehumanization I encounter at gay bars. When I leave the gay bars, then I’m truly free to be me. Ironic how that works.

      • lnm3921

        June 9, 2015 at 7:45 pm

        I was speaking from my experience as a gay man. The transgender and bi-sexual experience maybe different. That’s likely because gay men don’t understand transgender people any better than the heterosexual population does and do not relate to you. They too don’t feel comfortable with you. When it comes to bisexuality, many believe you’re straddling the face simply because you’re ashamed to fully come out as a gay man.
        As a gay man, I’ve experienced being unwelcomed in Lesbian bars. Some women don’t care and are fine with you being there while others will tell you to your face that it’s women’s space and you’re not wanted.
        I always experience homophobia especially from heterosexual men. I hate feeling you have to walk on egg shells in a hetero bar because some guy may get bent out of shape because your are checking him out. It’s happened to me at the gym. I hate it when hetero men work at gay bars then get angry because you flirt with them. I assume you’re gay if you’re there. It’s my space to be myself for a change.
        I just got a tote bag with my company logo on it and carried it on my shoulder and keep getting awkward looks from both men and women. If you don’t get transphobia in hetero bars and can be yourself I assume they don’t know you are transgender in general.
        You likely need to work to educate the gay community about yourselves as much as the heterosexual community. I rarely see transgender people anywhere so I can’t really get to know you.

  6. John-Manuel Andriote

    June 6, 2015 at 12:35 am

    I agree that gay bars are important entry points for younger guys finding others like themselves. That’s a huge part of our socializing as young men, and it was for me when I was young, too. My only concern is that the alcohol-saturated atmosphere is about the worst thing that gay men need who are struggling with anxiety and depression–as a disproportionate number of gay men do. Alcohol and depression and sex can be a lethal cocktail.

    • BVinLA

      July 22, 2016 at 6:44 pm

      Bars arent just for the young. Any of us can be suddenly single at any point in our life.

  7. Chip Chapin

    June 6, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Gay bars would not close if they were not losing money. The internet, DWI and a more open society are killing the business.

    • Rocky Racoon

      June 9, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      or — just having a beer bust is not enough anymore…. maybe some business that have been floating on intertia for decades need to step up their game

  8. NYCLawyer1

    June 6, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    As a someone whose 19th Birthday coincided with Stonewall, I am very disheartened by the author’s dismissal of the revolution that took place as a mere footnote to the younger generation of gays, like himself. While so much progress has been made over the past 46 years that could not have been envisioned before Stonewall shook the world, there is still much hatred, discrimination, fear and self-loathing today. Granted that there are many more ways available for gay men to meet and mingle than there were so many years ago, gay bars are far from relics of the past. They are places where gay men can socialize, relax and have fun, to be themselves and be with others like them, freely. Maybe the decline of gay bars and events like Pride in the Chesapeake area is a local phenomenon. Things may change, but there will always be a place for the gay bar

    • lnm3921

      June 6, 2015 at 11:50 pm

      It’s happening in all the major cities sadly. It appears that gentrification and the internet have both played a role in destroying gay bars, and forcing the decline of gay neighborhoods as gays are forced out by high prices and with that goes the gay bar. Gay bars are part of our culture like it or not. They’ve always been a great place to see many gay men and be seen.
      I used to live in Boston, and thirty years ago they had a wonderful gay life, a gayborhood and awesome bars full of hot men. You could cruise men on the streets and meet and find friends to have fun with in common places. We had bath houses and gay bookstores. Today, only the dive bars have remained, the gay neighborhood is gone and I can find no gay community to spend my time in when I visit. It’s awful.
      Our enemies are getting exactly what they wanted. No gay community, and no gay bars as our community becomes as invisible as it was before stonewall! Sadly gay people seem too stupid to realize it assuming hard times for the community are gone. How naïve!

    • Jack Werner

      June 7, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      I think the author was lamenting the fact that in mainstream history books Stonewall is given scant attention.

  9. Puckfair52

    June 7, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Probably the worst places I spent most of my young life that & the baths!
    Apps aren’t any better…no intimacy! A line from Boys in the Band “all that standing around & standing around & then going home alone or pissed.
    I’m not saying I didn’t have a lot of fun but fun eventually became drudgery! Bar culture is about popularity and finding him by looking across a room & hooking up and guessing at what he’s about. No dating!
    Joining the gay activists I met real people learned about them as people rather than physical objects & learned to date in other venues. If they are lucky enough youth today have gay centers with a lot of other activities and avenues to meet each other. Back in the bars we had the occasional softball league or bowling team.
    I’d like there to be bars but they are often loud places full of opportunities to be excluded. Another feature I remember I hung out with a large bar family and we were quite cruel in our A listing & z listing. Sort of like prehistoric” mean girls in a butch bar!

  10. Falconlights

    June 7, 2015 at 10:49 am

    I agree. My wife and I like to go to the local gay bar (it’s combined gay and lesbian because there really isn’t a large enough population to have lesbian AND gay bars). I think there need to still be safe spaces for LGBT people. Mixed clubs may be very nice and useful for some, but I feel a lot safer and freer in a gay bar than any mixed club.

  11. William Thomas Rogers

    June 7, 2015 at 11:35 am

    When I was younger, gay bars were the only ‘safe havens’ we had, regardless of Military and Police disapproval and ribald attempts to close them to ‘protect the community’ and ‘the solider boys’. But I can give a better reason why we will always need gay bars.

    Someplace to go where you don’t have to ‘put up’ with falling down drunken straight males AND females, whose obnoxiousness grows more and more disgusting and salacious as the night goes by. Just saying…

  12. Sean

    June 7, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Great article! And while drinking too much can be a problem, we need places where we still meet face to face. And hopefully talk to a few strangers. Isolation is the big reason for depression, I’ve observed.

  13. Chris Peterson

    June 7, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    A gay bar is what happens when me and my hubby Joseph go out with friends…Noboby cares that we are hugging,kissing,grinding whatever….love is love and this generation understands that.

    • Adam in Christ

      July 2, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      Please repent while there’s still time, Peterson…

      • Chris Peterson

        July 2, 2015 at 8:15 pm

        Adam how interesting to see you outside of charisma. ;)

  14. Daiyu Hurst

    June 7, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    By the end of 2011, the Louisville KY metro area was down to four. Now, we have nine, one of which is in New Albany, Indiana.

    But even if society changes so much that the hostility that made cloistered spaces a necessity vanishes, why would gay bars? Are country bars going out of style? Biker bars? It seems we’ll always have spaces (bars) that cater to specific clientele, because that’s just human nature.

  15. Virgoman

    June 8, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Many Gay bars in some places have become integrated and invaded by straights and others not really that friendly to our community. Knowing our bars are the most fun places to play and not boring like other places they come in and of course they are welcomed, not like we are in their bars!

    • Randall Krause

      June 9, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      Isn’t it ironic that straight people treat me nicer than gay men when I go to gay bars? I’ve gone to straight bars and felt much more welcomed and accepted than at gay bars. I think gay bars are a relic of the past, and trying to hold onto a closeted culture that is at odds with the openness that comes from being out and proud in the real world.

      • lnm3921

        June 9, 2015 at 7:52 pm

        Do they know you are transgender? Maybe they assume you are a woman and that’s why you don’t have issues with it. Bars can be noisy, dark and very busy so unless you have very masculine features, you may just blend in.
        Hey, if it isn’t for you fine, don’t go to gay bars but don’t begrudge those of us that want them that right. I spend most of my time in a completely heterosexual world and want to be myself, pursue anyone I want without judgment or scorn or look at any man I want without him freaking out or becoming hostile with me. That’s NEVER going to happen for me in a heterosexual bar!

  16. Scott Edwards

    June 8, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I live in downtown Philadelphia (Center City) and we have a huge and vibrant Gayborhood. The city even replaced the street signs in the area with ones with Rainbow flags on them. More bars than I can count in pretty close proximity and they are thriving, expanding, remodeling, etc. The community is very visible with so many gay couples holding hands on the street and openly showing affection. The gay bars are an integral of the community and help hold the community together. The only problem with the bars is finding a place to sit at the bar (or stand anywhere without being jostled).

  17. Mitemous1

    June 8, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Please don’t forget the DC Eagle!!! One of the only leather bars that has Re-Opened after almost every city across the USA has lost their leather bars. Please support all of our gay bars, and especially the DC Eagle as it tries to build back its valued clientele and tries to keep the gay leather history alive in the nations capital.

    [email protected]

    • lnm3921

      June 9, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      I’d love to but why on earth they put that bar in an area without any parking is beyond me. Not everyone lives in DC and many people don’t want to deal with rushing to get on the metro before it shuts down to go home. I don’t want to have to pay for an expensive cab ride either. EC makes parking extremely difficult for people who don’t live in the district so that discourages people from driving into town.
      The last DC Eagle on 7th Street never had any parking after a hetero bar opened next to it making it impossible to go there. People have told me they went home because they couldn’t find a place to park.
      I am glad the DC Eagle has survived and opened a new bar but not considering parking as an integral part of that is very shortsighted. If the bar doesn’t do well, I would blame it on that.

  18. David Bridgman

    June 8, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    I understand the desire for bars or places where the “younger generation” can feel safe and secure. HOWEVER .. you cannot force a business person to keep his or her establishment open just because the younger generation needs a safe place. This is a business just like any other business and if that business is not thriving then they will shut down. I am part of the “older generation” and definitely enjoyed my younger years where I was either working in or going out to a gay bar almost nightly. But it’s changed .. if these bars would be “safe places” for the “younger generation” to go to instead of a place where everyone’s attitude is trying to out do everyone else’s attitude and if they don’t like you or think you have an attitude they want to fight. It’s not a safe place anymore .. it’s not a place where the younger generation OR the older generation can go out and feel safe and have a good time. Maybe if it got back to the way it used to be these businesses would still be around and others wouldn’t be closing due to lack of business.

  19. Patrick Kelly

    June 8, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Its a really sad day for me knowing that the Hippo will be closing its doors in the fall. My first visit to the Hippo was in the summer of 1973 I was 16 yrs old and it was the start of my openly gay life. I met many friends there .I have many great memories of dancing the night away. I met the love of my life at the Hippo in 1978 we spent the next 24 yrs together .Over the years I would stop in for a great night out with friends. The Hippo was always the best and safest place to meet new friends. Not being a drinker I loved dancing the night away. I think that when the Hippo is gone the gay community will feel the loss. I know I will. I’m just really at a loss for words that my old hang out the Hippo will soon just be a memory. Now that I’m single where’s a guy to go. Its just sad. The Hippo was in its hay day the best dance club on the east coast….Have a great day guys…

    • lnm3921

      June 9, 2015 at 8:25 pm

      I know what you mean. I came out in the 1980s in Boston, MA. It was a wonderful time. Lots of exciting gay bars with hot men, a gay neighborhood, gay bookstore, bath houses, and you could cruise and be cruised on the streets. I had gay roller skating night and a gay youth center. Many outlets to make friends.
      Today, Boston only has about a few bars, most have closed, and the ones that remain are dives. One in particular is downtown where it’s impossible to park so I never go. Most of the bars are boring and empty whenever I go. No gay neighborhood anymore as gentrification has made it too expensive for gays to live in their old neighborhood. I’ve also been told that the city discourages gay bars in the downtown area making licensing very difficult and gay activists just accept that in return for all the rights the state grants them. The Boston community is more invisible now than it ever was. In fact, I would say, what community? I can’t find it? I used to want to move back there but I feel there is nothing to move back to.

  20. cliff stewart

    June 9, 2015 at 1:32 am

    there used to be 11 bars in monterey ca now there are none

  21. Chad

    June 9, 2015 at 9:18 am

    While I agree with the core of the intent of thenarticle, I find is discouraging to be so focused on bars. The youth mentioned that “need a gay bar” are far from those that do. Homeless and suicidal youth need a safe place, away from the party. They need youth centers, shelters, group homes, and places where they can be themselves without chemical assistance. This is a new generation of LGBTQ youth, and they are more comfortable than many of us in our 30s and up were/are. The bars are still going to be there. We need to look at the bigger picture of really helping youth that are rejected.
    Also, for a group of people seeking equality so loudly, to have a stigmatized attitude about straight people is disappointing.

    • lnm3921

      June 9, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      Why can’t we have both? I was a gay youth. I wanted both a safe place away from the bar and the bars.
      You should read the horrible comments on blogs regarding gay issues like marriage equality to realize that there is still a lot of hatred for gay people in America. Just because we get laws passed to protect us or courts rule we can marry doesn’t mean attitudes have changed. Like racism, homophobia is alive and well and constantly comes back to bite us.
      I was at work yesterday and a co-worker went to a gay strip bar and all I heard were judgments on gay men from people. They didn’t know I was gay and I don’t bring it up at work so they spoke freely. It’s eye opening to see how little has really changed despite how far we have come.

  22. Randall Krause

    June 9, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Working at two gay bars and being part of the LGBT community has only encouraged me to want to commit suicide even more than ever before. There are so many people in these environments that are hateful, and bitter, and toxic that it has cause me to question the value of my even staying alive.

  23. Peking_Duck_sd

    June 10, 2015 at 1:45 am

    I might be biased because my coming out was in the late 90s when I was turning 21 (fake ID prior), but gay bars were literally my second family. I know it’s hard for people outside of our community to understand, and maybe I’m a “stereotype” but my whole social existence revolved around gay bars and clubs. It’s where I met friends, enemies, partners, mentors, tricks, and many people who helped shaped my life. You could walk in and literally meet people of all backgrounds – doctors, scientists, drug addicts, prostitutes, closeted politicians, thieves, devoutly religious people – literally people of every walk of life who were all drawn to the bars where we could all be ourselves and meet fellow gay people. Maybe times are changing and gay bars are becoming obsolete, but I hope not. Gay bars are an important part of our LGBTQ history, and not one to be embarrassed about.

  24. Randall Krause

    June 10, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    When did I ever claim that gay men do not experiencing hate, scorn, discrimination, and violence? Your reply is remarkably hypocritical. You suggest that I should not be a victim, when you yourself are professing to be a victim because you are gay. Also, I never said I felt more comfortable in heterosexual bars. I don’t go to bars because I don’t drink, so I can’t say whether they are better or worse. All that I do know is that when I am out in the real world I get treated with more respect and appreciation than when I go into work.

    And to answer your question, I work at a gay-operated bar because it is the only dance club in town. If we had another venue where I could DJ in peace, you can rest assured I would be there in a heartbeat.

    • lnm3921

      June 10, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      I never brought up my own personal experiences with victimization until you started whining about yours concerning verbal abuse and rape. My point which you failed to grasp is that everyone deals with your issues one way or the other not just you. You came across to me as saying gay bars are terrible places because gay men make your life hell and you are treated better by heterosexuals in their bars.
      You don’t have to go to bars to drink. I don’t drink either. I got to meet other people and be in a gay friendly environment. Do I encounter assholes in gay bars? Of course, I do. But you encounter assholes anywhere you go.
      A gay-operated bar is the only dance club in town? There are no heterosexual dance clubs in all this area that you can apply for a job? If you find it so awful and can’t work at heterosexual bars assuming that would be any better for you then why don’t you consider a career change or locate to an area where you have other alternatives?
      Many people feel under appreciated and disrespected at work. It’s not just limited to working at a gay bar. I think only few people are truly happy at work. There is always someone one or something can that can make your life more difficult than you want it to be.
      I also find it ironic that you originally argued against gay bars when you make your livelihood in one. Where did you plan to go if they all closed down?
      Everyone judges everyone else wherever you go. It’s human nature. When you’re not around the people that judge you simply focus on someone else.
      I can’t believe you can’t find a trans group of people to make friends with that you can feel accepted with in this area. Just having a few friends to relate to might make all the difference in coping with it.

      • Randall Krause

        June 10, 2015 at 10:17 pm

        We have a very prominent LGBT community due to the state university. In fact, our city was the second in the U.S. to enact LGBT protections back in 1978. But some of the most influential trans people in this community are even more judgmental and cliquish than the gay men. Most of the local trans activists and/or allies that used to be really supportive of me have broken ties with me and won’t even associate with me whatsoever because I don’t fit into a rigid stereotype of trans-ness. As for the gay bar, I work there only because it is where I first came out, and I have built up a following as a DJ by working there. However, it has a longstanding reputation of alienating people (not just me, but others have boycotted the venue for this reason). This is a midwest phenomenon, apparently. Certain groups of people are very prejudiced around here even when they feign to be open-minded. It’s probably not like that in other parts of the U.S. Our city is very unusual due to its geographic location and the fact we have a college that draws thousands of students from around the world, yet we are still in the middle of nowhere. There is only one other nightclub in this city that is still open, and it attracts a hip-hop and ghetto crowd. That is not my scene. In short, I think it would be difficult to explain the entirety of the situation unless you could come here and experience it for yourself.

  25. sugarntasty

    November 29, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    Article eluding preference to whom? It’s only entertainment yes,LGBTQ society diverse “opinions” political rendering and demographics. Mention L.A and San Francisco it’s cult reverting ideal” which haven’t been reveal social disparity once. Prosperous nightlight cause strife to owners,whom didn’t own the land command by “City Hall” and BOMA reason. Disappearance of once popular attraction “cruising” watch journalism says “LGBTQ commerce opposite area of social sexual leisure. Can we blame REITS or changing attitude of American,LGBTQ society yes reside San Francisco new migrates whom identity LGBTQ. Seldom patronized “Castro” street not ideal retreat: ask Bevan Dufty and Scott Wiener reverted whom deserted “LGBTQ” Society! How passing measure to defeat “gentrification” everyone assumption majority LGBTQ,society deterred former popularity of clubs.

    Inaccurate REITS rezoning metropolitan regions,cause demise of LGBTQ clubs when owners. Lobby for protection always disfavor of mighty lobby of REITS persist never miss developments. Underwear popular in “Nordic,Berlin,Madrid and Australia” why…policies protect neighborhoods impossible. Dynamics of profits this opposition presently LGBTQ rather not attend nor support exclusive commerce. Wrong answer price out due:redevelopment into “class A” commercial realty preview “Eastbayredevloped,Skyrisecities,NYCYIMBY (forums-cities buildings),6sqft, Urbanized L.A,Curbed,Urban Toronto,Socketsite,Deezen,Archpaper,DTLA rising,Skyscrapercity,Archchute,Designboom and San Jose.Blog (new construction). Notice ratio of preserving neighborhood charade”LGBTQ…to allow social decay “well paid” parades) yeah illustration. Segregated polices,
    of gentrification which cause those not chosen to participate new economics. Recommend inquire to “LGBTQ” realtors whom silence upon,gentrified policies where losing rentals along commercial commerce!

    Displacement if LGBTQ not united where going be not assimilated,excluded
    and displaced majority cities. Mayoral candidates “Democrats” Ed Lee,Robert
    Garcia,Rahm Emanuel,Kevin Kisch and Bill de Blasio where polices of lobbying LGBTQ society? Forgotten those ambivalent using political statistics politicians where only concern about clubs and “Pride Events” which tax paid. Where is attention of private interest among,LGBTQ society abundance new
    wealth among us. Ask Ellen,Ricky Martin,Peter Thiel,Madonna,Jody Foster,
    Neil Patrick-Harris and Tom Ford,able to retain status buying homes with cash. Furthermore to endure if new generation not united going derail,once
    respected “LGBTQ” society it’s struggle clubs. Disappeared due,rising rents
    and rezoning L.A,Chicago,San Diego,NYC,Liverpool,Seattle,London and San
    Francisco where a remembrance odd LGBTQ politicians behind new policies!

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Opinion | U.S. senators: It’s time to act against anti-LGBTQ discrimination

Draw your inspiration from past bipartisan consensus



(Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Georgia has had the eyes of the nation on it for some time now. It’s just over five years since people across Georgia braced themselves as lawmakers sent sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation to the desk of then-Gov. Nathan Deal. The LGBTQ community feared for the potential harms that the broad “license to discriminate” bill could bring. Business leaders feared billions of dollars being drained from the state’s economy as major players from Hollywood, the business sector, and even the NFL threatened to pull investments. 

But after thousands of calls, meetings, and letters, Gov. Deal, a Republican and devout Evangelical Christian, ultimately did the right thing. He vetoed the bill, saying, “We do not have a belief in my way of looking at religion that says we have to discriminate against anybody.”

At the time Gov. Deal’s veto was heralded as a radical move for a Republican leader. But the truth is that Republican lawmakers faced with bills targeting LGBTQ people frequently take action against these measures. We saw it last month in Arkansas as Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed a draconian anti-transgender healthcare bill. Earlier this year, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox teared up while condemning an anti-trans bill, saying, “These kids are just trying to stay alive.” Prominent Republican leaders in South Dakota, Texas, South Carolina, and Arizona have vetoed or moved to block anti-LGBTQ bills. Stalwart Republican senators from Alabama and Iowa have passionately supported open military service for transgender people. 

There are plenty of examples of Republicans supporting LGBTQ people, but they’ve often been lost in the headlines stoking the so-called left-versus-right “culture wars.”

In my home state of Georgia, Gov. Deal’s action inspired further evolution on LGBTQ issues. In the five legislative sessions since Gov. Deal’s veto, Georgia’s legislature has not passed a single anti-LGBTQ bill. Republicans and Democrats alike have defended LGBTQ Georgians from discriminatory measures. And so many Georgians across the political spectrum – within families, friend groups, and workforces – have had conversations about what dignity for LGBTQ people looks like.

Now it’s time for the members of the United States Senate to build on that consensus by taking the most important and critical step yet for LGBTQ Americans. It’s time for senators on both sides of the aisle to come together and enact equality legislation that would establish concrete, enduring nondiscrimination protections for all LGBTQ people in areas like housing and public spaces, including restaurants, stores, and hospitals. LGBTQ people in too many states – 29 nationwide – remain vulnerable because of a lack of explicit nondiscrimination laws at the state and federal levels.

Polling consistently shows that a wide majority of Americans of both political parties strongly supports protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. More than eight in 10 Americans support LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination laws, including 62% of Republicans. We cannot let the loudest voices of a fringe minority hold our country back from delivering the promise of liberty, security, and equality for all people, no matter where they live. 

Because really, we are so close to passing federal LGBTQ protections – closer than ever before. Nearly 50 years after its first introduction in Congress, the Equality Act passed with bipartisan support in the House, and received its first-ever Senate hearing. Republican senators in the Senate Judiciary Committee voiced empathy for the harms that discrimination has caused LGBTQ people. They also expressed a willingness to finding a path to protect us. And there is more than one bill proposed to address the inequity that LGBTQ people are subjected to. The Senate judiciary committee opened a door to the long overdue conversation.

Now it’s on us to hold that door open and guide all of our senators through. Democratic senators must reach out to their Republican colleagues and address concerns. Republicans must draw on the many recent examples of conservative leaders working to protect LGBTQ people. 

We can’t afford another 50 years of federal inaction on our protections. We can’t afford for the two parties to keep butting heads in a bitter stalemate. For the first time in history, we have a real opportunity to secure protections for LGBTQ Americans.

We must seize this opportunity, seek common ground and find a solution that works for everyone. It’s essential that right, left, and center come together, reach consensus, and do the right thing. At last.

Jeff Graham is executive director of Georgia Equality. Reach him at [email protected].

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Opinion | Why LGBTQ people should fear new Texas abortion law

Slippery slope measure turns private citizens into enforcers



Texas State Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

I worry about everything from climate change to violence against transgender people to racism to reproductive freedom for women. But, until recently, I didn’t have to worry that a “$10,000 bounty” could be collected from me if I helped a woman to have an abortion.

Yet, this is now a terrifying concern for abortion providers, advocates of women’s reproductive rights and those who value civil liberties. Especially, for people in Texas.

If you value the right to privacy and are LGBTQ or a queer ally, you should be terrified.

Here’s why everyone with a sense of decency should feel the hair standing up on the back of their necks: It’s no secret, that the Supreme Court, more conservative since the court of the 1930s, is likely eyeing the chance to overthrow or gut Roe V. Wade.

In May, the Supreme Court said that, in its next term (beginning in October 2021), it would consider an abortion case involving a Mississippi law that would prohibit most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy (about two months earlier than permitted by Roe v. Wade).

The Court’s decision to consider this case gives hope to anti-abortion activists seeking the overthrow of Roe v. Wade.   

States with Republican-controlled legislatures, aware of the make-up of the Supreme Court (with its conservative 6 to 3 majority), have acted quickly to severely weaken abortion rights. This has been especially true this year.

“More abortion restrictions — 90 — have already been enacted in 2021 than in any year since the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down in 1973,” according to a Guttmacher Institute report.

On May 19, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed a draconian abortion bill into law. This measure, known as a “heartbeat law,” bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

Many women, at the six-week point, have no idea that they’re pregnant.

This is bad enough. Other states, including Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, Kentucky and South Carolina have passed “heartbeat” laws banning abortion (when a fetal heartbeat can be detected).

But the legislation signed into law this spring by Gov. Abbott is even more insidious.

The legislation, scheduled to take effect in September 2021, gives private citizens the right to sue doctors and abortion clinic employees.

It doesn’t stop there. The new law permits a private citizen (from a pastor to an Uber driver to a friend, family member or perfect stranger) to sue anyone who performs or helps anyone to get an abortion. Even private citizens not living in Texas could sue people performing or helping someone to get an abortion.

Each private citizen could potentially be awarded $10,000 for every illegal abortion.

The law doesn’t allow for abortion in the case of rape or incest. Though it would permit abortions in rare medical instances. Thankfully, on July 13, a coalition of abortion rights and civil liberties advocates, including abortion clinics, doctors, clergy, filed a federal lawsuit to challenge this new law.

Six-week abortion bans passed by other states have been successfully challenged because abortion rights advocates sued government officials.

But Texas’s new law prohibits state officials from enforcing it. It’s set up to be enforced by private citizens.

“We had to devise a unique strategy to fight this subversive law,” Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “We will pursue every legal avenue we can to block this pernicious law.”

This new law sets up a dangerous slippery slope for LGBTQ folk.

If a private citizen is allowed to sue anyone assisting a woman having an abortion, what, for example, would prevent anyone (from a minister to a friend to a cab driver) who helps a queer couple to adopt a child? Or suing anyone helping a transgender person to get health care.

Let’s do all we can to support the effort to block this dangerous law.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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Opinion | LGBTQ victories are largely legal, not legislative

Leading lobbying groups ineffective as we face hostile Supreme Court



anti-discrimination laws, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The recent conclusion of last month’s Pride month celebrations marked an annual milestone in both the history and advancements of rights for the LGBTQ community. The progress for LGBTQ rights over the last two decades has been groundbreaking – oftentimes described as an exemplary movement obtaining rights for a marginalized community. It was less than 20 years ago the United States Supreme Court struck down the country’s first real gay rights test in Lawrence v. Texas, decriminalizing “homosexual conduct” among consenting adults. 

Even in the most recent years, we all recognize how major achievements like marriage equality to the protection of gay adoption – to the recent action ensuring a fully inclusive military with transgender service – have benefited the community. But with new attacks arising daily in state capitals around the nation, like transgender sports becoming the new “bathroom bill,” LGBTQ future generations are counting on the leading LGBTQ rights and legal organizations to secure more equality.

Almost unanimously, these groundbreaking rights – while being achieved at almost lightning speed (although not fast enough for the millions of LGBTQ Americans whose lives have been, and still being impacted) – have been won in American courtrooms, not the halls of Congress. 

While the first federal LGBTQ rights bill was introduced in Congress in 1975 by former Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.) making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, it was simply referred to the Judiciary Committee and died. Forty-six years later barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, part of today’s Equality Act, has still not been passed into law by the LGBTQ lobbying organizations – and faces a similar fate this year in the U.S. Senate. 

The Equality Act, the chief legislative target for Washington, D.C.’s LGBTQ lobbying organizations is dead in Congress despite the ripest political environment with a Democratic House, Senate and White House. The Senate’s filibuster and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are major structural problems for the legislation, but there is not even serious discussion or demands from the LGBTQ lobbying community to insist on passage through filibuster reform.  

Must we automatically presume the LGBTQ community is so low a priority we are essentially beholden to prejudice of the minority in the Senate? When, therefore, can we ever expect any action? If not now, then when will gay lobbying succeed?

As an LGBTQ researcher at the University of Sydney in preparation for a new academic piece, I wanted to find out how groundbreaking LGBTQ rights could be won in courtrooms while lingering in Congress for half a century. The central question this research tried to answer was, “what factors contribute to LGBTQ lobbyist and advocate perceptions of movement success by LGBTQ organizations?”  The answer became pretty clear when surveying the top LGBTQ lobbying and government affairs professionals, the ones with the most intimate, front-line view of congressional outreach. 

Overwhelmingly, the research concludes the leading mainstream legal organizations have been primarily responsible for the community’s progress – not the LGBTQ organization’s lobbying efforts. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the wealthiest LGBTQ organization with a $48 million a year budget based in Washington, D.C. and founded 41 years ago, was ranked 10th most effective out of 17 organizations ranked. Since 2018, HRC has fallen six additional positions since the original research was published. In contrast, Lambda Legal, the LGBTQ community’s foremost legal rights organization, followed by the legal powerhouse, the ACLU, have moved ahead of them ranking as the most effective LGBTQ organizations.

The research clearly demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the LGBTQ lobby, which has largely focused on gaining access to power structures instead of winning legislative victories.  Fundraising models of these organizations, built largely around monetizing their access to power, has left little evidence of their effectiveness and in turn, has strengthened systems of oppression against an overwhelming number of LGBTQ people of color, transgender individuals and lower-income members of the community. The “access to power” model of LGBTQ lobbying has essentially commercialized gayness (white, cisgender, English-speaking, middle and upper class gayness) as a consumable product that most often benefits those in power. It’s a “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” system of lobbying that shuts the door on the most marginalized LGBTQ people – those most in need of legislative victories to protect their lives.

Today, regardless of all of the progress in LGBTQ legal victories over the last two decades, the community is in the most dangerous place it has been in 25 years. LGBTQ lobbying does not work, and LGBTQ legal avenues have catastrophically changed. The 6-3 Supreme Court is poised to undermine Roe, which some say undermines Lawrence, which undermines Obergefell (the groundbreaking 2015 marriage equality decision). A house of very successful, but delicate legal cards, may begin to fall. The LGBTQ community is holding its collective breath against an anti-LGBTQ Supreme Court majority, and the spotlight is now shining brightly on the LGBTQ lobby and their ability to produce legislative success. 

Unfortunately, the organizations responsible for shaping the community’s relationship with states and the federal government are largely seen as ineffective and oftentimes harmful to progress. This ineffectiveness leaves the LGBTQ community in a dangerous and perilous moment in the movement’s history.  

To be successful, a radical transformation of the movement’s lobbying must happen immediately by shifting to a much more state-based movement, where anti-LGBTQ opponents are already attacking the identity and existence of transgender people with the introduction of more than 100 bills aimed to curb the rights of transgender people nationwide. Secondly, the danger to the lives of LGBTQ people from these legislative harms must be amplified and ready to be fought against. And lastly, a new model of investment is required that prioritizes the lives of transgender individuals and people of color and embraces an intersectional approach to lobbying. 

The LGBTQ movement is about to face darker days ahead. Leaders in Washington’s premier gay rights groups, including their lobbyists, must figure out how to protect our children, protect the poor, and lift up the marginalized or face disastrous consequences in the next few years in legislative bodies from city halls to the U.S. Capitol. Otherwise our hopes to tackle issues like transgender sports and equality will rest solely on the LGBTQ legal apparatus.

Christopher Pepin-Neff, Ph.D., a senior lecturer in Public Policy in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, is the author of ‘LGBTQ Lobbying in the United States.’

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