But gay bars were already closing their doors before the virus hit. Their decline began sometime around 2002 and has since accelerated. My research shows that as many as 37% of the United States’ gay bars shut down from 2007 to 2019. On the one hand, this decline can be seen as a sign of shifting attitudes toward LGBT people; on the other hand, their closure represents the loss of a vital community space. Unfortunately, gay bars in communities where they’re needed most – where they serve the most vulnerable segments of the LGBT population – will have the most difficult time rebounding from the crisis.