Goodbye Gay Bar, Hello Grindr?

I was watching an episode of Chelsea Lately the other night and the panel discussed a 2007 Entrepreneur Magazine article stating that gay bars were among businesses that were facing extinction over the next decade.

This made me laugh. Not just because Chelsea and her writers had come up with a few good one liners about Grindr, but because I was actually putting together a feature on Score’s 13th Anniversary Celebration.

I Googled the Entrepreneur article immediately to see what facts they had to back up this assertion. Suffice it to say that the evidence was weak – a newspaper article stating that a decline in gay bars could be attributed to a growing acceptance of gay people – not exactly the smoking gun I was looking for.

The article did not mention the recent rise of smartphone sex apps like Grindr and Radar, which I think would have made a stronger argument. But then again, I know better than to think that these apps would deter gay people from frequenting bars like Score, Twist or Palace.

As is usually the case when straight people make assumptions about gay men, they seem to have confused being social with being sexual. This article (and the theories about Grindr making the gay club obsolete) only furthers the stereotype that the gay scene is purely sexual, leaving out the social and emotional bonds that gay people form with each other in these environments.

For many gay men, going to a gay bar is the first step in coming out of the closet. For others, it’s somewhere they can feel safe rockin’ five inch stilettos on the dance floor. It’s also the best place to listen to the artists that don’t get a lot of play at the trendier South Beach night spots.

And although sex isn’t everything, there is still something about vibing with someone at a bar or club that is much more thrilling than sending a guy pictures of yourself in front of your bathroom mirror and asking if he is a top or a bottom.

I’m not against theory that acceptance of gay people will make it more acceptable us to party with our straight friends. However, I think there will always be a need for gay bars just as there will always be a need for biker bars, taverns and rooftop lounges.

And thank God for that!


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