Gay bars are closing at an alarming rate—a writer looks back to find out what’s being lost.
Jeremy Atherton Lin can't remember his first gay bar. When he tries, it unexpectedly sets him off on a time-travelling, transatlantic investigation into the fraught histories of the beloved and reviled institution. From the clone-filled discos of Hollywood in the 1970s to a warren of cruising tunnels built beneath London in the 1770s, from the chichi bars in the aftermath of AIDS to today’s fluid queer spaces, Gay Bar takes us on a journey through generations of gay men in the places they created and claimed.
In prose as exuberant as a hit of poppers and as dazzling as a disco ball, Jeremy conjures the strobing lights and the throbbing music, the scent of tangled male bodies, the rough and tender encounters, the costumes and the categories—twink, daddy, basic gay, club kid, bear, muscle mary—all the while tracking the protean aesthetics of masculinity and gayness. He invites us to go beyond the simplified gay bar liberation mythology of Stonewall and enter the many other battlefields in the struggle to carve out a territory. Elegiac, sexy, and sparkling with wry wit, Gay Bar is at once a serious critical inquiry, a love story, and an epic night out to remember.